Size of Edinburgh task dawning on Alan Solomons

Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons could take only one positive from his side’s supine performance in slumping to defeat in Swansea. At least he now knows the scale of the task facing him in Scotland.
Edinburgh captain Roddy Grant. Picture: SNSEdinburgh captain Roddy Grant. Picture: SNS
Edinburgh captain Roddy Grant. Picture: SNS

Ospreys 44-10 Edinburgh

Scorers: Scorers: Ospreys: Tries – Hassler, Walker (2), Hibbard (2), Morgan. Cons – Biggar (3), Morgan. Pens – Biggar (2). Edinburgh: Try – Visser. Con – Leonard. Pen – Leonard..

The South African was a late appointment and even later arrival in Edinburgh shortly before the start of the season and tried to explain that his side were having a pre-season build-up during the season. Certainly they approached this competitive league game more like one of those August friendly runarounds.

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It was back to the bad old days in many ways for Edinburgh on the road as they never remotely threatened to be competitive, with only occasional flashes of consolation to stem the steady flow of points against them.

Solomons earmarked recent changes as a cause of the problems which led to 34 unforced errors by Edinburgh as the Ospreys scored six tries to one to comfortably claim a bonus point.

The only consolations were that Tim Visser managed to scythe through midfield to add to his commanding try total, while back rower David Denton did demonstrate some real go forward and determination when he held on to the ball. Apart from those two, few could come away from Swansea with head held high. And Solomons admitted he is on a rapid learning curve. “I’m busy finding out,” he said. “I wasn’t here in pre-season, which isn’t ideal.

“It’s the first time for that to happen in my coaching career and I’ve not heard of it too often that guys come in at the start of the season. It’s not just me. Our strength and conditioning trainer and defence coach came in after me, so we’ve come in very, very late.

“We’ve played no part in pre-season and in the preparations for the season, which makes a massive difference. I’ve told everyone we have to have a pre-season in season, using the first two months to have our pre-season, which makes it very difficult.

“There was one simple reason why we struggled and that was the massive number of mistakes we made. We made 34 errors in the game and that is far, far too many in professional rugby, especially against a well-drilled and experienced team like Ospreys.

“You can’t take anything away from an Ospreys side that played very well. They are a very good and very experienced team, with a lot of British and Irish Lions players and they fully deserved the win. But we made a rod for our own back with an error rate that was through the roof.

“This is only our third competitive game but, by November, when we finish this block of matches I think I’ll have a fairly good handle on everything.

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“The goal for the season was to earn respect from our opponents and supporters. We need to cut out the errors and regain respect for the club.”

Ospreys captain Alun-Wyn Jones talked about the game being harder than it appeared, while fellow Lions forward Richard Hibbard talked about cheap shots by Edinburgh and, whether you take the view of respecting your opponent or accusing them of disrespect, the bottom line was that Edinburgh were not competitive.

Several fans were still finding their way to their seats when Ospreys wing Jeff Hassler was able to slice through the Edinburgh defensive alignment to get the first try.

A pair of Dan Biggar penalties increased the Ospreys’ comfort level, with Hibbard getting two tries from close range and left wing Eli Walker also adding a brace in a livewire performance. Replacement outside half Matthew Morgan went the length of the pitch for the final try to rub salt in the wounds.

Edinburgh may not have been remotely threatening on the scoreboard, but there were some scuffles and fights, which is what Hibbard was referring to with his accusations.

The biggest followed the correct sin-binning of Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric for a tip tackle and even TV replays couldn’t find anything other than handbags in what might once have been referred to as a “mass brawl” after the incident. Nowadays, when players know they cannot get away with any violence, the worst act on view was holding a player in a threatening way.

Solomons knows that he has a big job on his hands. Efforts to stiffen the resolve of the side through overseas signings had little impact in Swansea, but perhaps the new arrivals will improve as co-ordination and teamwork increase.

If last year was disappointing for Edinburgh, then there were no more than tiny flickers here to suggest that this season will be any different.

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Ospreys: R Fussell; J Hassler, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, T Tebaldi; D Jones, R Hibbard, A Jones, A W Jones (capt), I Evans, T Smith, M Allen, S Lewis. Subs: ANatoga for Walker (59), M Morgan for Biggar (65), S Baldwin for Hibbard (57), R Bevington for D Jones (57), J Rees for A Jones (65), T Ardron for Evans (65), T Grabham for Walker 71.

Edinburgh: G Tonks; N Walker, D Fife, N De Luca, T Visser; H Leonard, S Kennedy; A Dickinson, A Lutui, G Cross, G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen, D Basilaia, D Denton, R Grant (capt). Sub s: J Cuthbert for T Visser (57), O Atkins for van der Westhuizen (72), W Blaauw for Dickinson (54), W Nel for Cross (51), H Watson for Grant (59), J Hilterbrand for Lutui (65), S Hidalgo-Clyne for Kennedy (51), M Tait for Fife 41.